Common Gallinule (Gallinula geleata)
This year-round resident of Siesta Key and Sarasota County is also a familiar sight throughout the eastern United States.
The gallinule’s most unusual feature is a bright-red shield on its forehead, making it anything but common. The bird is a study in color contrast, with vibrant red and yellow accents set against a dark charcoal head and body, and brown wing plumage. A white stripe on its side completes the ensemble.
Its yellow-green legs and feet give the impression of being stained by green algae, but this is just their natural appearance.
Gallinules are included in the rail family of birds whose members are chicken-like marsh dwellers with short wings and tail, and oversized feet with long toes. True to their rail heritage, the skittish gallinule strolls across floating vegetation while darting in and out of the thick cover of marsh grasses and brush.
Despite the fact that its large feet are not webbed, the gallinule swims almost as deftly as a duck, bobbing its head to the beat of its own drum.
Jan Baumgartner’s handmade notecards showcase Siesta Key natural scenic beauty and wildlife. They are available in two locations:
BLVD Beachwear, 5239 Ocean Blvd., (941) 349-2583
Shelly’s Gift and Christmas Boutique, 4420 S. Tamiami Trail, (941) 260-8905